New guidelines says sex-selective abortions are “unacceptable and illegal”

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Sex-selective abortion is "unacceptable and illegal" in the UK, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

Mr Hunt issued new guidelines in order to close a loophole used by prosecutors to avoid bringing charges.

The guidance follows an investigation by The Daily Telegraph which uncovered doctors who were willing to terminate pregnancies for women who said they did not want to have a baby girl.abortion.jpg

One of the doctors did so despite likening the practice to “female infanticide” while the other told a woman her job was not to “ask questions”.

In September, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ruled that it would not be in the “public interest” to prosecute the doctors. Sir Keir Starmer, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the law does not "prohibit gender-specific abortions", leading to concerns that his decision effectively legalised the practice.

Abortion clinics will also be required to explicitly recognise that gender-based abortions are illegal as part of their licence conditions.

Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, one of Britain's largest abortion providers, had previously said that women are legally free to terminate pregnancies on the basis of sex.

The government's new guidelines also explicitly forbid doctors from pre-signing abortion forms. Under the 1967 Abortion Act, two doctors must sign off on the procedure, and agree “in good faith” that the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's physical or mental health.

But a cross-party group of MPs has written to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police demanding a criminal investigation after evidence emerged that dozens of doctors pre-signed abortion forms without knowing anything about the women concerned.

Eleven MPs are supporting the call for a Scotland Yard inquiry after the General Medical Council, the doctors’ regulator, ruled out action against 67 physicians found to have been involved.

The GMC said the practice was “wrong” and that it has ordered the doctors to “obey the law” but nevertheless decided against bringing fitness to practise hearings saying that what they had done was “common practice”.

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